Patterns and impressions : an investigation into the copying of British furniture designs, the cabinetmaker’s pattern book and trade catalogue in New Zealand 1820-1920.
Thesis DisciplineArt History
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This thesis explains how quickly British furniture designs arrived with New Zealand’s first colonist cabinetmakers in 1839, and that the first colonial printed trade catalogues were copied from British designs, often in contravention of copyright. Examples of the earliest New Zealand made furniture are examined to provide evidence that they were modelled on the work of popular and contemporary British designers. Comparison is made with American furniture and their first pattern books to illustrate that unauthorised reprinting of British designs had also occurred. The same experience was then found in Australia to demonstrate that British designs travelled promptly to that new colony and like America were also reproduced. The thesis argues that New Zealand colonial furniture makers replicated the American and Australian experiences. Analysis of the first New Zealand trade catalogues revealed that designs were indeed copied from British trade catalogues while specific colonial legal cases are examined to argue cabinetmakers’ catalogues violated copyright and registration by reprinting designs. Despite the widespread distribution of subscription magazine as a source of copyright free furniture designs, illegal copying persisted. Printing methods, notably lithography and then photography, are discussed to explain the complexities and efficiencies of printing colonial catalogues. Further, this thesis examines colonial trade relationships, undocumented price coding, and the manufacture of colonial furniture by using British trade catalogues as pattern books to conclude that the primary motivation for colonial furniture makers to copy designs was always about profit.